The Upperman Bees have won eight games in a row, dating back to Week 4 of the high school football regular season, when they suffered their lone loss of the year – a controversial 19-14 setback at Fayetteville. The Bees (11-1) put their win streak on the line this Friday night, as they travel to Chattanooga to face familiar playoff foe, Red Bank, with a trip to the Class 4A semifinals on the line. The Lions (8-3) have been red-hot themselves; after a 1-3 start, Red Bank has reeled off seven straight victories, including a 47-7 rout of Upperman’s Region 4-4A cohort, Macon County, last Friday night.
Friday’s meeting will be the fifth between Upperman and Red Bank in the playoffs in the past seven seasons. The Lions ended Upperman’s season in the second round of the Class 3A State Playoffs in 2019 (21-14), while the Bees sent Red Bank packing in the quarterfinals in 2018 (50-21). Red Bank ousted Upperman in the first round of the playoffs in 2016 (54-13), while the Bees took the 2015 first round match-up (35-15). Both schools moved up from Class 3A to Class 4A, this past off-season.
Upperman is coming off a 40-14, second round thrashing of DeKalb County this past Friday night, the third consecutive game the Bees have posted 40 or more points. Meanwhile, while the UHS defense has only allowed a combined 27 points through those same three contests. In fact, the Bees’ defense has been stingy throughout the season, allowing an average of only 9.8 points per game. The 19 points surrendered to Fayetteville in Week 4 stand as the season high.
Speaking of Fayetteville, the defending Class 1A State Champs are one of two common opponents shared by the Bees and the Lions, this season. While Upperman suffered a five-point defeat at Fayetteville, Red Bank easily put away the Tigers, 28-0, at home back on October 15. Macon County was the other opponent shared by the two quarterfinal round teams, with both teams winning convincingly against the Tigers. Red Bank took a 40-point win last Friday, while Upperman routed Macon County, 41-14, back on October 1.
The winner of Friday’s game will advance on to the semifinals against the winner of Greeneville (12-0) and Elizabethton (10-1). Greeneville entered the playoffs as the unanimous top-ranked team in Class 4A, while Elizabethton ranked number-three. Greeneville defeated Elizabethton, 42-12, in the teams’ regular season meeting back on September 3.
On the West side of the Class 4A bracket, Region 5-4A foes, Tullahoma (12-0) and Pearl-Cohn (11-1), meet for the second time this season. Tullahoma eked out a 24-21 win over the Firebirds on September 24. Meanwhile, Haywood (12-0) will take on fellow Region 7-4A member, South Gibson (9-3), in the other West TN quarterfinal. Haywood blanked South Gibson, 28-0, in their regular season meeting back on October 15.
Upperman head coach Adam Caine spoke briefly about the Bees’ quarterfinal round game at Red Bank during The High School Playbook, this past Saturday.
In other area quarterfinal round playoff action this Friday night, the Gordonsville Tigers (11-1) and South Pittsburg Pirates (9-2) meet in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, and for the 17th time since 1986. The Pirates hold an 11-5 lead in those previous playoff meetings, and have won seven of the last eight.
Watertown (9-3) will host Trousdale County (10-1) in the Class 2A State Quarterfinals. This will mark the fourth consecutive year the two teams have faced off in the quarterfinal round, with the Yellow Jackets having won the previous three meetings. Watertown, however, has defeated Trousdale County in the last four regular season match-ups, including a 31-21 victory in Hartsville in Week 11 of this season.
Lebanon (11-1) will host Oakland (12-0) in the Class 6A Quarterfinals.